On November 11, the Dutch celebrate Sint Maarten. The next day, November 12, is All Saints Day and the day after is All Souls Day (but the Dutch don’t celebrate this holiday).
Favorite customs on Sint Maarten include: dressing in red and white, children going from door to door with songs and candy asking for Sinterklaas treats, special cakes made for the occasion such as rol-klof cake.
The Dutch name for this holiday comes from Saint Martin of Tours who was a holy man in 4th century France. The day is also known in the Netherlands as Het Gelukkige Diepte or Happy Depths.
Sint Maarten is celebrated in the Netherlands on November 11. However, the celebration is not like American Thanksgiving. The day is not a time for family reunions or football games. It’s not even a holiday where people take the day off of work.
The holiday has multiple historical roots including Saint Martin of Tours who was a holy man in 4th century France and Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) who was born in Asia Minor (part of what is now Turkey) around 280 AD. Sinterklaas is the Dutch version of Saint Nicholas.
In the Netherlands, Sint Maarten was a pagan holiday where people celebrated the end of summer and fertility in nature. The tradition of Sint Maarten has been around for over a thousand years even though Saint Martin’s Day has only been part of Dutch tradition for a little over 150 years.